Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods
Acquitted?!
T. Cullen Davis
T. Cullen Davis
Davis has the dubious distinction of having been acquitted twice. In August 1976 a single gunman entered the Fort Worth, Texas, home of Priscilla Davis (right), the estranged wife of oil heir T. Cullen Davis, fatally shot Priscilla's daughter Andrea Wilborn (center), then lay in wait until Priscilla and her new boyfriend, Stan Farr (left), returned from a night out. The gunman, whom Priscilla identified as T. Cullen Davis, shot Priscilla once in the chest, shot Farr five times, and shot a passerby drawn to the commotion before fleeing into the night. Farr was pronounced dead at the scene; Priscilla and the passerby survived. Based on the eyewitness accounts, T. Cullen Davis was taken into custody that night. He was charged with Wilborn's murder.

At trial, though, the prosecution could build only a circumstantial case, and T. Cullen was able to secure the best representation money could buy. His girlfriend, who had initially told police she had been passed out under the influence of a sleeping pill that night, at trial testified that T. Cullen had been with her. By proposing theories of other lovers as possible suspects, the defense was able to dwell at length on Priscilla's extramarital affairs, and the defense noted there was no forensic evidence tying T. Cullen to the murder which could not also be explained by his prior residence in the house. The jury took four and a half hours to acquit T. Cullen on its second vote.

One year to the day after the opening arguments for his murder trial, Davis was caught meeting with an FBI informant, who had approached the bureau saying Cullen had hired him to kill more than a dozen people on an enemies list. Among the targets were Priscilla, Bubba and two witnesses to Andrea's murder, and the judge who was overseeing the still-unresolved divorce process. The informant, who wore a wire, told Davis he had killed the judge and received a $25,000 payment with promise of up to $200,000 more for killing the rest on the list. Davis was behind bars with the hour. The Defense argued that Davis had been playing along with the informant, casting doubt on the prosecution's taped evidence. Davis was acquitted, again.

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